Title: A History of the Crusades – The First Crusades, The Kingdom of Jerusalem, The Kingdom of Acre (3 vols)
Author: Sir Steven Runciman
Publisher: The folio Society, 2009
Condition: New and perfect. 3 volumes. Bound in vegetable parchment. 1,248 pages in total. 54 colour plates. 9½” x 6¾”. Heavy!
Sir Steven Runciman’s gripping and groundbreaking history of the crusades enthrals the general reader as completely as it satisfies the historian. He follows the story of the crusading spirit from its beginnings in the 11th century, through the preaching of the First Crusade by the Normans, to the triumphant establishment of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, the rise of Saladin’s Islamic empire and the final degeneration, in the 14th century, of the crusaders’ ideals.
His approach is radical. Far from the chivalrous Christian soldiers of folklore, Runciman views the western crusaders with scepticism. By helping to destroy Constantinople and the Byzantine Empire, the centre of medieval civilisation, he sees them as completing the work of the barbarian invaders of the Dark Ages. The senseless massacre, the interplay of personalities and ambitions, the ideals (romantic and otherwise) which led the knights to the Holy Land, and the politics that kept them there – these are the themes of this classic work, which was the most celebrated achievement of a prodigiously gifted scholar and raconteur.
‘With Sir Steven as our lucid guide, we move through the assembled throng without a stumble, without the slightest jostling, and the sights he shows us are magnificent.’